Genre: Historical Romance
The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the “D of J” in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.
Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.
But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.
A new to me author – how could I have missed this amazing book? Luckily it came highly recommended from numerous others on a Facebook debate on favourite authors/books. I was completely blown away by the sheer magnificence of the storyline; the content is intelligent, romantic, inspiring, and darkly frightening.
Initially I downloaded the kindle version but, after reading two chapters, I discovered that this book wasn’t going to be a light, easy read. So I decided to download the brilliant audio version with the quite remarkable narration of Nicholas Boulton, who is now a firm favourite.
It is never actually stated that the confident, brilliant, dissolute Christian, Duke of Jervaulx suffers a catastrophic stroke, but it is obvious. Too sick to fight back, he is consigned to an asylum by his manipulative power hungry family; they prefer to believe him mad in order to gain control of his estates and fortune.
Christian had previously met Maddie Timms, a prim and proper Quaker ‘friend’. He is a brilliant mathematician, as is Maddie’s father, John Timms. Together they have made a discovery, widely applauded within their own mathematical circles as brilliant and inspiring, and all of this happens immediately before Christian’s collapse. Maddie is not impressed by the man he is, but she IS impressed by his mathematical genius.
Maddie is asked to work for her cousin, a physician who has founded an asylum for the well-heeled of society. She is shocked to recognise Christian as one of the inmates and appalled at their treatment of him, refusing to believe him mad. Having seen evidence of his brilliance, she is convinced everything is still there but locked inside his head. Christian’s inability to communicate manifests itself in anger and frustration and causes his gaolers to mistreat and shackle him in a barbaric fashion.
Maddie is not afraid of this apparently mad Christian and convinces her cousin, much against his better judgement, to allow her to care for and nurse him. Her resulting befriending of Christian sets in motion a series of events which are frightening but beautiful and make for compelling reading/listening,
The slowly emerging love story between Maddie, fighting her puritanical upbringing and trying to reconcile her love for Christian and the worldly wise, cynical aloof and arrogant duke, is occasionally frustrating, but completely believable. The circumstances of these two people, fighting together to free Christian from his ruthless family’s intentions to have him declared insane, and therefore unable to handle his own affairs, is addictive reading/listening.
Ms. Kinsale’s research and knowledge of the subjects she covers, Christian’s illness and the barbaric treatment doled out to him, mathematics, financial management, law, politics and religion as well as her extensive scholarship of the era is breathtaking.
This book would be heavy going if read, as a lot of the dialogue is inside Christian’s head but the torment and despair of the brilliant aristocrat and mathematician is captured brilliantly by Nicholas Boulton; this talented Shakespearean actor is the chosen narrator of Laura Kinsale and it is quite obvious why. His portrayal of the characters, both male and female is outstanding, so outstanding that it is difficult to believe that we are listening to one man performing all parts. But for me, his portrayal of the tortured, sick Christian is just beyond words.
MY VERDICT: I am aware that this novel has been out for some years, but if anyone who has not read FLOWERS FROM THE STORM happens to come across this review – THIS IS ONE NOT TO BE MISSED. I am left feeling emotionally exhausted, but bereft because it is finished; definitely up there with my all-time greats. 5 sparkling, glittering stars both for content and wonderful narration.
REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Listened to in March 2014